Filed under: Brave New World, Connections, Government, Health, Marketing, Politics, Predictions, Science, Society | Tags: CDC, health, jim downey, politics, predictions, salt, science
<sarcasm> Gee, I’m stunned </sarcasm>:
In a report that undercuts years of public health warnings, a prestigious group convened by the government says there is no good reason based on health outcomes for many Americans to drive their sodium consumption down to the very low levels recommended in national dietary guidelines.
Not only did they determine that there was little benefit in pushing for such low levels of overall salt intake, there might actually be health risks associated with such low levels. From the same article:
One 2008 study the committee examined, for example, randomly assigned 232 Italian patients with aggressively treated moderate to severe congestive heart failure to consume either 2,760 or 1,840 milligrams of sodium a day, but otherwise to consume the same diet. Those consuming the lower level of sodium had more than three times the number of hospital readmissions — 30 as compared with 9 in the higher-salt group — and more than twice as many deaths — 15 as compared with 6 in the higher-salt group.
Another study, published in 2011, followed 28,800 subjects with high blood pressure ages 55 and older for 4.7 years and analyzed their sodium consumption by urinalysis. The researchers reported that the risks of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure and death from heart disease increased significantly for those consuming more than 7,000 milligrams of sodium a day and for those consuming fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day.
OK, current CDC guidelines, dating back to 2005 (though based on research going back into the 1980s):
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), 2010 recommend reducing sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. The DGA’s also recommend you should further reduce sodium to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day if:
- You are 51 years of age or older.
- You are African American.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You have diabetes.
- You have chronic kidney disease.
The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population overall and the majority of adults. Nearly everyone benefits from reduced sodium consumption. Eating less sodium can help prevent, or control, high blood pressure.
How does this compare to what people actually consume? Well, sodium consumption from salt around the world is about 3,400 mg per person per day. This amount is pretty consistent across cultures, and has remained pretty stable over decades. In other words, the current governmental recommendations say you should be ingesting half to two-thirds of what people have been consistently ingesting. And there have been efforts by governments to impose increasingly strict limitations on salt consumption, usually through limitations on salt use in prepared foods.
There are two problems with that: one, there really isn’t good science to back up the limitations (as noted above). And two, limiting salt in prepared foods changes not only the flavor of the foods, but also the “mouthfeel“. And one of the easiest/most common ways to correct this is with the increased use of lipids (usually fats of one sort or another), since they have a similar effect to salt in creating food density. Meaning that people are probably ingesting more calories in response to prepared foods which has less salt in it. And since obesity is increasingly problematic …
Talk about your unintended consequences. Such is the danger of social engineering of just about every sort.
I started this post with the <sarcasm> </sarcasm> cues because I’ve long been skeptical of the science behind strict salt limitations. As I have noted previously, the evidence backing up strict limitations has been very mixed for decades. And there has been indication that for at least a substantial segment of the population, salt sensitivity wasn’t a problem at all. Now seeing that there is little evidence that lowering salt levels is beneficial for the general population, and that indeed there may be real risks in doing so?
Pass the salt, please.
Filed under: Astronomy, Augmented Reality, Brave New World, ISS, Man Conquers Space, Music, NASA, Science, Science Fiction, Space, tech, YouTube | Tags: Chris Hadfield, David Bowie, ISS, music, NASA, science, Science Fiction, space, video, www youtube
How cool is this?
How cool is Chris Hadfield?
Filed under: 2nd Amendment, ACLU, Babylon 5, Brave New World, Civil Rights, Connections, Constitution, Emergency, General Musings, Government, Guns, J. Michael Straczynski, JMS, Mark Twain, Politics, Predictions, Preparedness, RKBA, Science Fiction, Society, Survival, Terrorism, Violence, Writing stuff | Tags: blogging, Boston, firearms, guns, jim downey, literature, Mark Twain, Nevil Shute, police, predictions, Roman, Rome, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, terrorism, Tom Wolfe, violence, writing
Any work of literature is, to some extent, part of the society in which it was written, and needs to be understood within that context. Whether you’re talking The Bonfire of the Vanities or On the Beach or Life on the Mississippi or just about any novel you care to name, it is, to some extent, a reflection on the culture surrounding it.
Writers react to the events around them. Even science fiction authors like yours truly. We really can’t avoid it.
I mentioned events in Boston the other day. Just a blog post. But it is some measure of what has gotten my attention. So it would be safe to assume that to some degree it will show up in St. Cybi’s Well. And it will. But perhaps not exactly as you might think.
Almost five years ago I wrote this:
This is nothing more or less than the peace of the gun. This is the abrogation of civil liberties as a solution for incompetent governance. Of course people like it – let things get bad enough that they fear for their lives more than they value their liberties, and you can get people to do almost anything.
Now, I don’t think that what happened in Boston was anything like what led to that blog post about HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. in August of 2008. In that instance, it was chronic problems with crime rather than a couple of domestic terrorists which brought about de facto martial law.
And I think that the police agencies involved in determining who was responsible for the attacks, and then seeking the suspects in a major metropolitan area did a very professional job. Just compare it to another recent dragnet and you’ll see what I mean.
But I keep coming back to that earlier blog post. Why? Because seeing a major city shut down, and then para-military operations going house to house searching for a suspect, gives me pause. I certainly can’t fault the police for taking precautions intended to protect their own lives and the lives of citizens. SWAT equipment and tactics have been shown to be very effective.
… I feel somewhat like the owner of a couple of highly trained and massive guard dogs, who has just watched those dogs chase off/control a threat. There’s a satisfaction in watching them do the task so well. But there’s also a nagging fear that maybe, just maybe, things could be bad if they ever decided that they no longer wanted to obey commands.
Nah – no need to worry. That has never happened before.
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Jupiter, NASA, NPR, Predictions, Saturn, Science, Science Fiction, SETI, Space, tech | Tags: blogging, David Charbonneau, exogenesis, exoplanets, Goldilocks, jim downey, Jupiter, Kepler mission, NASA, NPR, predictions, Saturn, science, Science Fiction
As something of a follow-up to yesterday’s post, news today of the discovery (thanks to the Kepler mission) of three exoplanets which are very good candidates for harboring life. First, their size is within an order of magnitude of Earth’s — and, specifically, less than twice the size of Earth — meaning that they’re not gas giants such as Saturn or Jupiter. Secondly, and at least as importantly, they fall within the “habitable zone” in their star system. That’s the so-called “Goldilocks Zone” where liquid water can exist (it’s not too cold and not too hot).
This is exciting! As it is put in the article:
Two of the three detailed in the new findings in the journal Science are of particular interest: Kepler-62-e and Kepler-62-f. William Borucki, the chief scientist for NASA’s Kepler telescope, says the planets are slightly wider than Earth, but not too big. Kepler-62-e is a bit toasty, like a Hawaiian world and Kepler-62-f is a bit nippy, more Alaskan, Borucki tells the AP.
“This is the first one where I’m thinking, ‘Huh, Kepler-62-f really might have life on it,’ ” said study co-author David Charbonneau of Harvard. “This is a very important barrier that’s been crossed. Why wouldn’t it have life?”
Filed under: Astronomy, Brave New World, Connections, movies, Music, NASA, New Horizons, NPR, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, SETI, Society, Space, tech, YouTube | Tags: 13.7 Blog, blogging, Communion of Dreams, Drake Equation, exoplanets, jim downey, Kepler mission, Marcelo Gleiser, music, NASA, NPR, Pink Floyd, predictions, science, Science Fiction, SETI, space, technology, TESS, The Wall, www youtube
From the opening pages of Communion of Dreams:
Jon sat there for a moment, trying to digest what Seth said. According to what pretty much everyone thought, it wasn’t possible. SETI, OSETI, META and BETA had pretty much settled that question for most scientists decades ago, and twenty years of settlement efforts throughout the solar system hadn’t changed anyone’s mind. Even with the Advanced Survey Array out at Titan Prime searching nearby systems for good settlement prospects, there had never been an indication that there was an intelligent, technologically advanced race anywhere within earshot.
It’s one of the very basic questions of space science: are we (sentient beings) unique? Rare? Common? There are a lot of ways to think about it, and here’s a nice piece on NPR discussing some of the relevant parts of the question and what we’re doing about it. An excerpt:
So, to address the first part of the question we must find out how unique the Earth is. We then should figure out how unique life, and humans, are. Fortunately, thanks to NASA’s Kepler mission, we are making huge progress in the first part of the answer. A key finding is that the majority of stars (around 70 percent) have at least one planet orbiting around them. Based on the data so far (2,740 planet candidates and 115 confirmations), Kepler scientists estimate that some 17 percent of these are Earth-size, meaning with similar mass and rocky composition as the Earth, and possibly close enough to their parent star that water, if present, could be in its liquid state.
More good news arrived on this front earlier this month as NASA authorized the construction of Kepler’s successor, TESS (for Transit Exoplanet Survey Satellite). With launch scheduled for 2017, TESS will survey a much wider area of the sky than Kepler, while focusing mostly on stars that are closer. This way, it will use spectroscopy to resolve at least part of the atmospheric composition of the exoplanets. The goal is to find telling signs of life-related compounds such as ozone, water, carbon dioxide and, if we’re really lucky, even chlorophyll. Successful detection would be very exciting, as it’d point to what optimists expect, a few fairly close Earth-like planets with metabolizing beings.
I hope I live long enough that science is able to make a definitive affirmation of life, then intelligent life, outside our own planet.
Until then, well, there’s science fiction.
Filed under: Artificial Intelligence, Brave New World, Connections, Harry Potter, Humor, J. K. Rowling, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, tech, YouTube | Tags: blogging, Harry Potter, humor, jim downey, literature, predictions, quadrocopter, Quidditch, science, Science Fiction, technology, video, www youtube
OK, that last post kinda churned around in my head a bit, reminded me of something else having to do with robotics.
I didn’t post anything about this a week ago when it made the rounds, but check it out:
The ability to toss a pole back and forth like that, while flying, is pretty cool. And I bet if they can do that, then tossing a ball back and forth would also be possible — if not now, then in the very near future.
So, what I want to know is: when is someone going to come up with an honest-to-God game of “Quadrocopter Quidditch”? Should be eminently doable.